It may surprise you to learn that almost any aspect of your work environment can either improve or impede your ability to do your best work. Do you know if your workspace is helping you be productive and successful or if it’s holding you back? Consider the fact that most Americans spend the majority of their waking hours at their job, and then you’ll begin to realize why it’s important to consider ergonomics in your workspace. Research has proven that ergonomic workspace designs not only minimize the risk of work-related pain and injuries, but it can also improve productivity and satisfaction, as well.
What Is Ergonomics?
Ergonomics is a scientific approach to understanding human body’s abilities and limitations, and then applying that knowledge to improve how people interact with their environment with the tools they use to do their job. By applying ergonomics to the workspace, you can minimize the risk of injury to yourself or your employees.
Almost everything you interact with your workspace can be designed ergonomically. You can change the way your workspace is set up to improve the ergonomics. The main important factors affecting workspace ergonomics your posture, repetitive movements, how long you stay in one position, as well as the light, noise, and temperature of your workspace. Other important factors include how you use any tools to do your job and whether they are designed to fit your needs, which may include your computer keyboard and mouse.
By having an ergonomic workspace, you can effectively:
- Be less likely to suffer from headaches, lower back pain, wrist pain, or eyestrain
- Reduce existing neck, back, or wrist pain
- Prevent bursitis or tendon problems associated with repetitive movements
How Do I Make an Ergonomic Workspace?
Research shows that ergonomic designs in home or office workspaces improve productivity and reduce pain. Being sidelined from your job with a work-related injury is an expense that both the employee and their employer can avoid, and one way of minimizing the risk of serious injury is to implement an ergonomic workspace.
You can make your workspace ergonomic in countless ways, but the most important things to keep in mind are:
- Proper desk height: When your desk is at the correct height, you won’t have to strain your forearms as you type, and it helps keep your shoulders relaxed, so you don’t strain your upper back by hunching over your desk as you work. An adjustable desk can help fight fatigue, prevent repetitive movement injuries, and more.Choosing a desk that allows you to switch between sitting and standing is ideal. Excessive sitting has been scientifically proven to increase the risk of high blood pressure, back pain, and even lead to premature death. If you don’t want to splurge on an adjustable-height desk, look into an adjustable desk riser so you can stand intermittently while are your desk.
- The right desk chair: Choosing a good chair can be just as challenging as choosing the right mattress. Your desk chair should make it so you can sit with your feet flat on the floor and have your thighs horizontal and parallel with the floor. The chair should have good back support, and if it does not, consider using a lumbar support pillow.
- Computer glasses: You can experience eyestrain because of the blue light emitted from various electronic devices you look at throughout the day. This has been shown to cause eye fatigue, and it can even cause macular degeneration. Computer glasses with a blue light filter can remove this harmful light from hitting your eyes.
- Ergonomic keyboard and mouse: These keep your hands and wrists in a natural position. Unfortunately, most keyboards are flat and the keys are in straight horizontal lines. An ergonomic keyboard has a slight angle and lets your wrists assume a more natural, relaxed position. An ergonomic mouse has a similar goal, and is contoured to eliminate unconscious gripping and tension in your hands and fingers. Some people prefer a vertical mouse to a horizontal one so they don’t need to twist the wrist to operate their mouse.
- Monitor position: Badly placed monitors can cause neck and shoulder pain. Your computer monitor(s) should be at least 20 inches in front of you, or about at an arm’s length. The top of your screen should be at or below eye level. Use adjustable monitor stands to put your monitor at the correct height for you.
When an Ergonomic Workspace Doesn’t Eliminate Pain, Contact Muir Orthopaedic Specialists
Everyone has limitations when it comes to their workspace, whether it’s the fact that you have a laptop without ergonomic accessories or you can’t convince your boss to buy adjustable-height desks for the office. Do what you can, but take every opportunity to make simple and affordable adjustments to make your work life more productive and less painful.
Contact us at Muir Orthopaedic Specialists at (925) 939-8585 today for an appointment.